Asking for repairs as a tenant

Last updated: 30 March 2017

If you're renting a private property, you have a duty to report the need for repairs to your landlord or letting agent.

It's your landlord's responsibility to make sure the property meets 2 sets of standards – the Repairing Standard and the Tolerable Standard.

Reporting the problem

As soon as you become aware of anything that needs repairing, you should let your landlord or letting agent know.

You can do this by phone or in person but you should also send them an email or letter, so you have written proof you told them. Make sure your email or letter includes:

  • the date
  • the address of the property you're staying at
  • a full description of what the problem is
  • how you'd prefer to be contacted, as well as your phone number and email address

Be sure to include as much information as possible. This might include:

  • photos of the things that need repairing
  • whether there is any damage to your possessions or if you've had to replace anything
  • whether you've had the disrepair looked at by a builder or other professional – if you do this, include their assessment
  • a doctor's note if it's affecting your health

When you're reporting the problem in writing, you should get proof you sent it to your landlord. If you're sending a letter you should send it as recorded delivery and keep the receipts, and keep a copy of the letter for your own records. If it's an email, see if you can request a read receipt.

The repairs should be done in a reasonable amount of time. What's considered reasonable depends on the repair. If the problem is making the property unsafe, the repair should be carried out urgently.

If the repairs aren't done

After you've sent your landlord information about the repair, you should expect to at least hear back from them within a week or so.

If you don't, you should send them another letter or email. In it, you should:

  • repeat the information you gave in the last letter
  • include a copy of the last letter
  • ask them when they intend to do the repair
  • ask them to talk to you about arranging access to the property

If they still don't carry out the repairs, there are a number of options available to you. These include:

  • arranging for the repairs to be done yourself – as long as the landlord agrees to pay for them
  • contacting your local council's environmental health department, if the problem is damp or another issue that's affecting your health
  • applying to the Housing and Property Chamber

Housing and Property Chamber

If your home doesn't reach a certain standard of repair and your landlord won't do the work, you can apply to the Housing and Property Chamber.

They will look into your complaint and see if you have a case. If they decide you do, they can order your landlord to carry out the repairs.

You can also contact your local authority and ask them to make an application to the Housing and Property Chamber on your behalf.

Moving out if the repairs aren't done

If the landlord isn't carrying out the repairs and you still feel that the property is unsafe, you might want to consider moving out.

You may be able to do this even if your tenancy isn't finished, because your landlord may be breaking the terms of the tenancy agreement by not carrying out the repairs.

Speak to a housing adviser about what your options are for raising an action in court for breach of contract.

You may also want to ask the adviser about your other housing options – for example, if the council can help you.